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Full text of "Rapid Population Growth Consequences And Policy Implications"

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raising the rate of growth of economic development to 6 percent by 1975 and judges that this will require a flow of external resources equal to 1 percent of the GNP's of the rich countries—nearly a doubling of current aid. Although the 1 percent "target" may seem an arbitary notion chosen for its simplicity, the Pearson Committee reports that, according to studies now being conducted by a U.N. committee, the amounts thus transferred would not be inconsistent with what might be called "requirements" in the less developed countries. It is clear that continuation of recent rates of population growth is likely to shape internal needs in the poor countries in ways that will postpone desirable changes in trade, consumption, and investment patterns.
Agricultural transformations in the less developed countries not only affect food production and consumption but also will profoundly affect the distribution of overall income and assets. Land-tenure patterns, distributions of agrarian incomes and farm holdings by size, and rates of rural-urban migration are likely to be significantly modified. In all these respects, rapid population growth seems certain to increase the number of landless, subsistence, or disadvantaged peasantry and to raise the administrative burdens and social costs of absorbing urban arrivals. Conversely, a slower population growth could lessen the severity of these effects, once its cumulative influence on numbers began to take effect.
Economywide Effects of Rapid Population Growth
A macro view of demographic-economic interactions in the less developed countries, using overall income aggregates rather than food proper, leads to remarkably similar judgments. Unprecedented and still accelerating population growth has not prevented very rapid economic advance. Population growth, though not a negligible block to development and modernization, has also not been an overriding factor.
Increases in GNP during the 1950's and again in the 1960's were at rates which have just about matched the contemporary rates in the developed regions; they accelerated between the two decades, and they ranged well beyond the magnitudes recorded for the industrializing nations of the 19th century. Although much of the information about individual nations is subject to error, it would be surprising if the correct facts, were they known, would overturn the broad conclusions. By both comparative and historical standards, economic growth in less developed countries has been remarkably rapid, despite record population growth and its anticipated handicaps to development through reduced savings potentials, increased consumption needs, added imports and reduced supplies of foreign exchange, or lagging investment per unit of labor.
Among individual less developed countries, moreover, the relation between income (gross domestic product) and rates of population growth has been low